Johnny DePaz and Andy McCack make the Wildcats a state semifinalist. – Indepediente Daily Sports News

Johnny DePaz spent most of his sophomore year on the New Hanover boys’ soccer team.

Wild cats dominate the possession of the ball, so there are games where you can beat your opponent without even including a goalkeeper. But on Thursday night, in the brightest light of the season to date, DePaz made it to the event.
The Wildcats’ goalkeeper made a huge dive to the left in the last two minutes, once leading New Hannover (25-0-1) 1-0 with less than 30 seconds left. No. 4 Apex (20-3-1) in the fourth round of the NCSAA 4A playoffs.
New Hanover head coach TJ Rennie said: “It’s important for Johnny to be mentally fit as we’ve had most of our games this season.”
“But how hard is he? I knew he was screaming and his legs were killing him, and he stepped on the spot at the end of the first half. It was just amazing that he finished the game.”
The victory moved New Hannover to the Eastern Conference 4A Finals and the state semifinals for the second year in a row. DePaz was one of the few starters to miss last season’s 3A state championship game, and the Wild Cats lost at Weddington.
“It really hurt my heart to see the captains lose last year,” DePaz said. “I don’t want to see seniors do that again this year.”
Rennie’s collision happened within the first 10 minutes of the game. A long shot from the Apex goalkeeper dealt a heavy blow between DePaz, Christian Mullins and the Apex striker.
The ball was spinning, but senior center-back Holt Rogers was about to enter New Hanover when he turned the ball over and removed it from the line.

Andy McCack, the other center-back of the Wild Cats, showed victory on Thursday night.
Mecca scored against Olympico, hitting a corner kick from the left side of the pitch, knocking down New Hanover and Apex and heading in from behind. At the end of the first half, New Hanover took a 1-0 lead at 19:22, and that advantage eventually crossed the finish line.
“I just tried to put in a good ball and hope someone would put his head in it,” Macca said. “It’s back and it’s really important.”
Apex goalkeeper George Bingham blocked six times, despite a number of chances to advance to New Hannover. Aidan Payne has been ruled out three times, scoring 48 points this season, one goal short of the New Hanover school record.
When the Wild Cats host Cardinal Gibbons in second place on Tuesday night, Payne will try to break that record and break it. The 4A state champions beat Enloe 4-0 in the fourth round on Thursday.
The only flaw in the New Hanover record was a 2-2 draw with Cardinal Gibbons on August 27. Wild cats have won their last 22 games.
Rennie: “I think coach Tim Healy (Cardinal Gibbons) said at the start of the season that we could both play in the playoffs again.” “I don’t know if we thought it would be a regional final. They’re the 4A state champions and we think they’re the best team every season.”

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